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THE LIFE OF MEDIEVAL STUDENTS AS ILLUS- 
TRATED BY THEIR LETTERS 

The early history of universities is one of the most interesting 
and fruitful of the many questions of origins with which histori- 
cal science has in recent years been occupied. Through the efforts 
of Denifle and of others such as Kaufmann, Fournier and Rashdall, 
the subject of medieval universities has been lifted out of the realm 
of myth and tradition and placed upon a solid basis of established 
fact, so that, while many perplexing problems still remain unsolved, 
we can now trace with measurable confidence the main outlines of 
their early development. As yet, investigation has centred chiefly 
about what may be called the anatomy of the medieval university 
— its privileges and organization, its relations to king and pope, and 
similar questions — while much less attention has been given to its 
inner life and history or to the daily life and occupations of its stu- 
dents, topics manifestly of the greatest importance if we are to form 
an accurate and comprehensive idea of what a university of the 
Middle Ages really was. The life of medieval students is, how- 
ever, a large and complex subject, exhibiting wide differences at 
different times and in different places, and no treatment of it will be 
in any sense adequate which does not rest on the detailed study and 
comparison of the conditions at each centre of learning and the 
changes they underwent at different periods. 1 Such an investiga- 
tion demands the careful examination of a great variety of sources, 
literary, documentary and narrative, which are at present in large 
measure unpublished and whose value and interest for this purpose 
are by no means generally understood. The present article is de- 
signed to call attention to one class, of these sources, student let- 
ters, and to point out how far they throw light on the academic 
conditions of their time. 

The intellectual life of the Middle Ages was not characterized by 
spontaneous or widely diffused power of literary expression. Few 
were able to write, still fewer could compose a letter, and the pro- 
fessional scribes and notaries on whom devolved the greater part 
of the labor of medieval correspondence fastened upon the letter- 

1 On the proper methods to be followed in studying the history of medieval civiliza- 
tion, too often treated in a dilettante and uncritical fashion, see the excellent observations 
of Langlois in the Revue Historique ( 1897), LXIII. 246 ff. 

( 2°3 ) 



204 C. H. Haskins 

writing of the period the stereotyped formalism of a conventional 
rhetoric. Regular instruction in the composition of letters and 
official acts was given in the schools and chanceries, and numerous 
professors, called dictatores, went about from place to place teaching 
this valuable art — " often and exceeding necessary for the clergy, 
for monks suitable, and for laymen honorable," as one rhetorician 
tells us. 1 Beginning with the latter part of the eleventh century we 
find brief manuals of epistolography in which definite rules of com- 
position are laid down and the order and form of the various parts 
of a letter fixed. 2 According to the usual theory there should be 
five parts arranged in logical sequence. After the salutation — as to 
which the etiquette of the medieval scribe was very exacting, each 
class in society having its own terms of address and reply — came 
the exordium, consisting of some commonplace generality, a proverb, 
or a scriptural quotation, and designed to put the reader in the 
proper frame of mind for granting the request to follow. Then 
came the statement of the particular purpose of the letter (the nar- 
ration), ending in a petition which commonly has the form of a de- 
duction from the major and minor premises laid down in the exordium 
and narration, and finally the phrases of the conclusion. 

The construction of a letter in accordance with this elaborate 

'Albert of Samaria, in Rockinger, Briefsteller und Formelbiicher (see below), 84. 

2 On medieval treatises on rhetoric and collections of forms in general ( artes dictaminis, 
summae dictaminis, etc. ), see Palacky, Ueber Formelbiicher, zunachst in Bezug auf bohm- 
ischeGeschichte, in Abhandlungen der koniglichen bohmisehen Geselhchaft der Wissenschaften 
(1842, 1847), fifth series, II. 219-368, V. 1-216 ; Wattenbach, Ueber Briefsteller des 
Mittelalters, Arehiv fur Kunde osterreichischer Gesehichtsquellen, XIV. 29-94 (and 
separately as Iter Austria-cunt); Rockinger, Ueber Formelbiicher vom dreizehnten bis zum 
sechszehnten Jahrhundert als rechtsgeschichtliche Quellen (Munich, 1855); id., Ueber 
Briefsteller und Formelbiicher in Deutschland wdhrend des Mittelalters ( Munich, 1861 ) ; 
id., Ueber die ars dictandi und die summae dictaminis in Italien, Sitzungsberiehte of the 
Munich Academy, 1861, I. 98, ff; id., Briefsteller und Formelbiicher des eilften bis 
vierzehnten Jahrhunderts, in Quellen und Erorterungen zur bayerischen und deutschen 
Geschichte, IX. ; Valois, De Arte Scribendi Epistolas apud Galileos Medii Aevi Serif lores 
Rhetoresve (Paris thesis, 1880); Gabrielli, J-' Epistole di Cola di Rienzo e I'Epistolo- 
grafia medievale, in Archivio delta Socieid Romano di Storia Patria (1888), XI. 379— 
479 ; Gaudenzi, Sulla C/irvnologia delle Opere dei Dcttatori Bolognesi, in Bullettino dell, 
Istitulo Storico Italiano, XIV. 85-174; Langlois, Formulaires de Lettres dn XII", du 1 
XIII", et duXIV siecle, in the Notices et Extraiis des AISS., XXXIV. and XXXV., 
1890-1896 (five monographs on various medieval formularies; the author is also to pub- 
lish a comprehensive study of the artes dictaminis composed in France and England in 
the Middle Ages). 

Several treatises and formularies have been edited, especially in Germany, where the 
most active investigator in this field at present is Dr. Simonsfeld, of the University of 
Munich ; but an enormous number still remain unpublished. There is a bibliography in 
Oesterley, IVegioeiser durch die Literatur der Urkwidensamvilungen, I. 7—18 ( " biblio- 
graphie incomplete et confuse mais qui n'en rend pas moins des services "- — Giry) ; see 
also the appendix to Rockinger, Ueber Formelbiicher. An excellent brief survey of the 
subject is given by Bresslau, Handbuch der Uriundenle/ire, I. 624-645. 



Life of Medieval Students 205 

scheme was, however, possible only for those who had attained some 
proficiency in the epistolary art ; for the ordinary man the writing of 
a letter meant, not the composition of an original epistle of his own, 
but the laborious copying of a letter of some one else, altered where 
necessary to suit the new conditions. It is in this way that the 
greater part of medieval correspondence has come down to us, pre- 
served not as personal mementoes or sources of historical informa- 
tion, but as models for future letter-writers. Frequently these 
models would be copied and added to until they grew into consid- 
erable collections, which might find use as independent compilations 
of forms or be joined as illustrations to the various current treatises 
on the art of composition. It must not be supposed that all of the 
letters contained in these useful collections were actual pieces of 
correspondence. The authors of rhetorical manuals did not hesi- 
tate to compose models of their own or to incorporate exercises of 
their pupils, possible letters, but not actual ones, and they needed 
to make large use of such inventions when they proposed, as did 
many, to provide " complete letter-writers " containing examples 
suited to every station and condition in life. Where real letters 
were used the names were often omitted or altered beyond recogni- 
tion, while sometimes bits of pure fancy — letters to or from Venus, 
Lent, Rhetoric, the Devil, and similar personages 1 — would find their 
way into these strange compilations. 

It is evident that the collections of letters which have come down 
to us from the Middle Ages differ widely in character and contents and, 
consequently, in the nature of the information they afford the his- 
torian. The correspondence of known individuals has obviously a 
very different value from a series of anonymous or invented models, 
and the difficulty of distinguishing the real from the fictitious is one 
reason for the relatively small use that has been made of these 
formularies. While, however, the student of diplomatics in his 
search for authentic and datable acts cannot exercise too great 
caution in utilizing material of this sort, 2 the danger to the student 
of social conditions is much less. To him a possible letter may 
yield as valuable information as an actual letter, provided he can 

1 See the interesting paper of Wattenbach, Ueber erfundene Briefe in Handschriften 
4es Mittelalters besonders Teufelsbriefe, in the Sitzungsberichte of the Berlin Academy, 
1892, 91-123. Exercises of this sort occur frequently ; several are mentioned by Valois, 
43, from MS. Lat. 1093 of the Bibliotheque Nationale, and examples may be seen in 
Wattenbach, Iter Austriacum, 92 ; Fontes Rerum Austriacarum, second series, XXV. 
466; Rendiconti dei Lincei (1888), IV. 2. 404; Oxford Collectanea, I. 42-49. 

2 On this question, and particularly on the necessity of examining each collection as a 
whole before utilizing any of the documents it contains, see Wattenbach, Iter Austria- 
aim, and Ueber erfundene Briefe ; Pflugk-Harttung, in Forschtingen zur deutschen 
Geschichte, XXIV. 198; Delisle, Catalogue des Actes de Philippe- Aitguste, xxx. 



206 C. H. Has kins 

satisfy himself as to the place and time of its composition and 
the good faith of its author. He will not seek in these formulae 
trustworthy details of biography or of political history, but he may 
well expect them to reflect faithfully, because unconsciously, the 
conditions of the age in which they were composed, and thus add 
to the stock of material, none too large at best, available for the 
history of medieval civilization. The models were written to be 
used ; and the more closely they corresponded to the needs of the 
user the greater the popularity of the dictator and his manual. 
Most of all is this true in cases relating to student affairs, since the 
collections of forms and the treatises on rhetoric were generally put 
together in the schools and for the use of scholars — some of the 
most famous are directly connected with Orleans and Bologna — so 
that even where they were the product of direct invention they 
would be likely to represent correctly the life of the academic en- 
vironment in which they arose. 

The number of extant letters and forms of letters which concern 
the life of the medieval student is very great. Of the hundreds of 
formularies and collections of letters preserved in every large Euro- 
pean library, probably the greater number contain some reference to 
student affairs, and several seem to have been composed with special 
regard to the needs of students and their parents. All kinds of 
schools and all parts of Europe are here represented : cathedral 
schools like Hildesheim 1 and Chartres, 2 lower schools like those of 
Arbois 3 and St. Denis, 4 and nearly all the important university centres 
— Bologna, Pavia, Padua, and Siena, Vienna and Leipzig, Prague 
and Erfurt, Oxford and Cambridge, Salamanca, Toulouse, Mont- 
pellier, Orleans and Paris. An exhaustive critical study of this 
mass of student correspondence is not at present possible, as the 

•Sudendorf, Registrutn, III. 30-36. Cf. the exercises from Worms, likewise of the 
eleventh century, in Pflugk-Harttung, Iter Italicum, 382-389. 

2 Bibliotheque de I' Ecole des Chartes, 1855, 454 ff; Wattenbach, Iter Austriacum, 
44. The schools of Rheims are mentioned in a MS. of the Bodleian (Laud Misc. 569, 
f. 187) which contains a version of the treatise known as the Aurea Gemma : " Remensi 
studio legum — vel dialetice — alacriter et sane die noctuque adherere." Rheims is here 
substituted for the Pavia of the original model of Henricus Francigena (cf. Pertz's Ar- 
chiv, IX. 632 ; Zeitschrift der Savigny- Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte, romanistische Ab- 
theilung, VII. 2. 66). 

3 Bibliotheque Nationale, MS. Lat. 8653A ; a student's notebook of the fourteenth 
century from Arbois in Franche-Comte, containing, besides a collection of proverbs and a 
vocabulary (published by U. Robert in the Bibliotheque de V Ecole des Chartes, XXXIV. 
33-46), a number of forms of correspondence composed about the year 1316. Some re- 
late to the schools of Arbois, others to scholars from Besancon studying at Orleans. 

4 Letters in the same library, MS. Lat. 15131, ff. 177-189. According to Haureau, 
Notices et Extraits de quelques Manuscrits Latins, IV. 267 ff., they were composed by 
the schoolmaster of St. Denis ; some of them refer to Orleans. 



Life of Medieval Students 207 

greater part of it is still unpublished and many of the manuscripts 
have not been catalogued, while the sources of the various letters 
and the relations of the collections to one another have yet in most 
cases to be determined. The present inquiry has been restricted to 
printed works and to the manuscripts of Paris, Munich, London, 
and Oxford. 1 While absolute completeness cannot be claimed, 
even within these limits, 2 the material examined has been sufficient 
to make the results reasonably representative. 3 



, 3 



1 In one or two cases material has also been drawn from formularies preserved at 
Rouen and Troyes and from the dictamina of Wolfang of Altaich in the KSnigliche Bi- 
bliothek at Berlin (MS. Lat. oct. 136). At Oxford it was necessary to confine investiga- 
tion to the Bodleian, where very little was found ; something more might perhaps be dis- 
covered in the libraries Of the colleges. 

2 Particularly in the case of formularies subsequent to 1400, which exist in considera- 
ble numbers in German and Austrian libraries. These I hope at some future time to 
examine more thoroughly with reference to the light they throw on German universities in 
the fifteenth century. 

s In order to present the results of the study in compact form, only the more signifi- 
cant letters are printed, and many of these only in extract. In general the quotations from 
manuscripts are published just as they stand in the original ; the occasional emendations 
necessary to render a passage intelligible are noted wherever they have been made. If 
more than one MS. is mentioned, the text is that of the first. The MSS. of the Biblio- 
theque Nationale at Paris are cited simply as " MS. Lat." ; in all other cases the name of 
the library is given. 

The necessity for compression has prevented any extended discussion of the na- 
ture of the different formularies utilized, but the date and place have been noted in 
each instance. In the case of MSS. cited but once or twice this information is given in 
connection with the citation ; some collections, however, are referred to so frequently that 
they can be most conveniently described once for all. They are : 

Bernard de Meung, a dictator from the region of Orleans, author of an Ars Dictaminis 
of the close of the twelfth century, which is found in a great number of MSS. , often with 
an appendix of models which vary in the different redactions, although the student letters 
are much the same throughout. See Langlois in the BibliotAique de V jBcole des Charles 
(1893), LIV. 225 ff.; of the MSS. that he enumerates on pp. 231-232, 795, I have ex- 
amined a-f, h-k, m-p. 

Rudolfus Turonensis, the supposed author of a Summa Dictaminis preserved in 
Munich Cod. Lat. 691 1 and printed in part by Rockinger, Briefsteller und Formelbucher, 
95-1 14, who assigns it to the close of the twelfth century. The student letters relate 
chiefly to Paris. The incomplete collection in MS. Lat. 14069, f. 181-204V., contains 
many of the same forms as the foregoing ; the other models concern chiefly the diocese of 
Mainz and are of the first half of the thirteenth century. The date and authorship of the 
Munich MS. are to be discussed by Simonsfeld in a forthcoming publication of the Munich 
Academy. 

Buoncompagno, professor at Bologna and author of numerous rhetorical works of 
which the Antiqua Rketorica, composed in 1215, is the most important for student affairs. 
A partial list of MSS. will be found in Sutter, Aus Leben und Schriften des Magisters 
Buoncompagno (Freiburg i. B., 1894), 24; I have used Munich Cod. Lat. 23499; MSS. 
Lat. 8654, 7732, and 7731 ; and British Museum, Cotton MS. Vitellius C. VIII. The 
table of contents of the Antiqua Rhetorica is published by Rockinger, Briefsteller und 
Formelbucher, 133 ff. ; cf. also Mittheilungen des Instituts fur osterreichische Ceschichts- 
forschung, II. 225-264. On Buoncompagno' s life and writings see the above mentioned 
monograph of Sutter, and particularly Gaudenzi in the Bullettino delP Istituto Storico 
Italiano, XIV. 85 ff. 



208 C. H. Has kins 

By far the largest element in the correspondence of medieval 
students consists of requests for money — "a student's first song is 
a demand for money," says a weary father in an Italian letter-writer, 

Guido Faba, a younger contemporary and rival of Buoncompagno. On the chronology 
■of his life and writings see Gaudenzi in the monograph just cited. The forms of Faba 
were less bizarre than those of Buoncompagno and hence were more widely copied and 
imitated ; the collections which contain material on student affairs have been published as 
follows: Dictamina Rlietorica ( 1 226-1 227), in // Propugnatore , new series, V. I. 86- 
129, 2. 58-109; Epistole (1239-1241), ibid., VI. I. 359-390, 2.373-389; Parla- 

menti ed Epistole (1242-1243), in Gaudenzi, / Suoni deW Odierno Dia- 

letto delta Cittd di Bologna (Turin, 1889), 127-160. I have also examined the 
copy of the Parlamenti in the British Museum, Add. MS. 33221, which Gaudenzi 
does not appear to have seen. The models of P'aba form the basis of a collection 
of the fifteenth century from Salamanca in MS. Lat. 11386, ff. 55-60, and of a compila- 
tion from Orleans now at Avignon (MS. 831). 

Ponce de Provence, author of a well-known Stimmade Didamine, to which is joined 
a collection of letters dedicated to the students of Orleans. There are two redactions, 
dated 1249 and 1252. I have used the following MSS. : MSS. Lat. 18595, 8653 (f. 
1-212), 11385 ; Bibliotheque de 1' Arsenal at Paris, MSS. 3807, 1132 ; British Museum , 
Arundel MS. 514, f. 54 (apparently the best text) ; Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f- 2 7& 
(redaction made in Germany in the fourteenth century); Troyes, MS. 1556. There are 
brief extracts in Munich Cod. Lat. 16122, f. Ilv.-i6v. ; other MSS. are in Arras (MS. 
433), Vienna (MS. 2512), at the Laurentian in Florence (MS. 1545), and in the 
Archives of Aragon at Barcelona. The beginning of a version composed for the students 
of Toulouse is in MS. Lat. 11386, f. 13. 

Laurentius of Aquileia (or rather from Cividale in the neighborhood of Aquileia — 
Loserth in A T eues Archiv, XXII. 300) was one of the most prominent of the travelling 
rhetoricians of the type of Ponce de Provence. From his pompous addresses to students 
we learn that he visited Bologna, Naples, and Paris, while the models mention also Or- 
leans and Toulouse. The student letters are rhetorical and commonplace and are gen- 
erally adapted as well to one university as to another. I have used MSS. Lat. 11384 
(f. 1-78V.), 14174 (f. i6v. and foil.), 14766 (ff. 108-122), 16253 (f. 5v.-26v. ) ; Brit- 
ish Museum, Harleian MS. 3593 (composed at Paris and dedicated to Philip the 
Fair). 

The Formulary of Treguier, composed in the diocese of Treguier in lower Brittany 
about 1315 and now in the Bibliotheque Nationale (Nouv. Acq. Lat. 426). The letters 
relating to students at Orleans have been published by Delisle, Le Formulaire de Tre- 
guier et les Ecoliers Bretons a Orleans, in Volume XXIII. of the Memoires de la Societe 
Archlologique et Historiqne de V Orleanais and separately ; seven of them are reprinted 
by Fournier in the appendix to the third volume of his Statuts et Privileges des Univer- 
sites Francaises. See also the Histoire Litteraire, XXXI. 25-35. 

MS. Lat. 8661, f. 95 and foil., succeeding a copy of Guido Faba and bearing the 
heading, " Quedam epistola de curtisia quesitaa quodam canonico." The series of let- 
ters has to do chiefly with city affairs in the Romagna and the Marches toward the mid- 
dle of the thirteenth century. This seems to be the collection alluded to by Gaudenzi, 
Bullettino dell' Istituto, XIV. 174, which he dates ca. 1245. 

Bibliotheque de 1' Arsenal, MS. 854. M. Ch. V. Langlois kindly called my atten- 
tion to a number of student letters contained in this MS., ff. 217-244, dating from the 
early fourteenth century and relating to the University of Toulouse. They are preceded, 
ff. 214-216, by a group of letters from Orleans which belong to the close of the thir- 
teenth century. 

Munich Cod. Lat. 2649, ff. 34-53. A treatise (" De arte dictandi breviter et lucide 
. • " ) with anonymous models belonging to the end of the thirteenth century and 
dealing principally with Thuringian affairs. 



Life of Medieval Students 209 

" and there will never be a letter which does not ask for cash." * 
How to secure this fundamental necessity of student life was doubt- 
less one of the most important problems that confronted the medi- 
eval scholar, and many were the models which the dictatores placed 
before him in proof of the practical advantages of their art. 2 The 
letters are generally addressed to parents, sometimes to brothers, 
uncles, or ecclesiastical patrons — a much copied exercise contained 
twenty -two different methods of approaching an archdeacon on this 
ever delicate subject. 3 Commonly the student announces that he is at 

1 " Primum carmen scolarium est petitio expensarum, nee umquam erit epistola que 
non requirit argentum." Buoncompagno, Antiqua Rhetorica, in MS. Lat. 8654, f. 
14.V.; MS. Lat. 7732, f. 9V.; Munich Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 8v. 

2 There is a decided sameness in the contents of letters of this kind, and only the 
most interesting are given here. Examples of more commonplace types maybe found in 
Rockinger, Briefsteller und Formelbiicher , 71, 8l, 372, 487 ; id., Ueber Briefsteller, 40; 
Guido Faba, Dictamina Rhetorica, I, 22, 24, 63, Epistole, 66 and 67, Parlamenti ed 
Epistole, 83; Delisle, Le Formulaire de Treguier, Nos. I, 12, 16, 19; Gunthner, 
Geschichte der literarischen Anstalten in Baiern, I. 217, 230 ; Biondi, Le Dicerie di Ser 
Filippo Ceffi (Turin, 1825), 65. Cf. also the authentic letters of Gui de Bazoches from 
Montpellier, Neues Archiv, XVI. 76, 77. 

The manner of constructing one of these letters may be seen by the following ex- 
tract from an anonymous treatise in the British Museum (Add. MS. 18382, f. 59) : 
' ' Assumatur ergo tale tema, quod quidam Parisius insistens studiis et nimis pauperrime 
vivens litteras dirigat matri sue ut in rebus neccessariis sibi provideat. Assumendum est 
proverbuim in hunc modum : Mater moribus redolet novercam que filii non sublevat 
egestatem. Nar.: Diu est quod Parisius studiis inservivi et nummos meos in usus 
neccessarios iam expendi. Petitio: Mihi igitur necessaria propinetis et sic egestatem 
meam expensis minimis munere sublevetis. Ultimum proverbium : Domesticum est 
enim matri ut filio subveniat indigenti.'' A similar example is found in Munich Cod. Lat. 
2649, f- 38v., printed in a slightly different form by Rockinger, Ueber Briefsteller, 40. 
See also Langlois, Formulaires de Lettres, IV. 14. The rhetorical elaboration of a 
simple letter of this sort is illustrated in Rockinger, Briefsteller und Formelbiicher, 487. 

This commonplace of medieval student existence is also treated in verse. See 
Carmina Burana, 50; Anseiger fur Kunde der deutsehen Vorseit (1873I, XX. 8 ; and 
particularly the poetical dictamina of Mathieu de Vendome, published by Wattenbach in 
the Sitsungsberichte of the Munich Academy for 1872, phil.-phil. Classe, 561-631, 
which contain much interesting information on the student life of the twelfth century. 
Another begging letter of the same author is in M . Haupt' s Exempla Poesis Latinae 
Medii Aevi (Vienna, 1834), 31. 

3 Published by Barwald in Fontes Rcrum Austriacarum, second series, XXV. 455— 
464, from a fourteenth-century MS. in Vienna. The earliest occurrence of this exercise 
that I have found is in a treatise in the Bibliotheque Nationale, MS. Lat. 16252, ff. 39- 
4lv. , composed, it would appear from the names on f. 34V., between the years 1243 and 
1249. Other copies are in MS. Lat. 14357, f. 129V. (fourteenth century), and Munich 
Cod. Lat. 5319, f. 182V. (fifteenth century). 

Petitions to ecclesiastical dignitaries are usually either "requests from students for 
benefices or petitions from beneficed priests for leave of absence for purposes of study, 
such leave to carry with it, of course, the enjoyment of the fruits of the living. Exam- 
ples of such letters and the replies are common, ; e. g. Guido Faba, Epistole, 25, 26, 
Diet. Rhet., 88, 89; Fourth Report of Historical Manuscripts Commission, 380, 394; 
Codex Diplomaticus Silesiae, V. 161 ; Langlois, Formulaires de Lettres, IV. 7 > Register 
of Archbishop Peckham (Rolls Series), I. 3, 8 ; Registrum Palatinuvi Dunelmense 
(Rolls Series), III. 307. 



210 C. H. Haskins 

such and such a centre of learning, well and happy but in desperate 
need of money for books and other necessary expenses. Here is a 
specimen from Oxford, somewhat more individual than the average 
and written in uncommonly bad Latin : l 

" B. to his venerable master A., greeting This is to - inform 
you that I am studying at Oxford with the greatest diligence, but 
the matter of money stands greatly in the way of my promotion, as 
it is now two months since I spent the last of what you sent me. 
The city is expensive and makes many demands ; I have to rent 
lodgings, buy necessaries, and provide for many other things which 
I cannot now specify. Wherefore I respectfully beg your paternity 
that by the promptings of divine pity you may assist me, so that I 
may be able to complete what I have well begun. For you must 
know that without Ceres and Bacchus Apollo grows cold." 2 

Sometimes the supplies needed — books and parchment, trousers, 
linen, bedding, etc. — are sought directly from home. 3 In an interest- 
ing set of letters written from Chartres at the beginning of the 
twelfth century and quite unspoiled by the phrases of the rheto- 
ricians, we find two brothers asking their mother for thick lambs' 
skins for winter clothing, parchment for making a psalter, their 
father's great boots, and some chalk, good chalk, since theirs is 

1 The text of the formularies of the Middle Ages is frequently quite corrupt ; in 
many cases it is clear that the copyists did not understand the meaning of what they 
wrote. Langlois, Formulaires de Lettres, V. 26, note. 

2 " Venerabili domino suo A., B. salutem. Noverit universitas vestra quod ego Ox- 
onie studeo cum summa diligencia, sed moneta promocionem meam multum impedit. lam 
enim due mense transacte sunt ex quos mihi misisti expendidi (!). Villa enim cara est 
et multa exigit; oportet hospicium conducere et utensilia emere et de multis aliis extra 
predicta que ad presens non possum nominare. Quare paternitati vestre pie suplico qua- 
tinus divine pietatis intuitu mihi succuratis, ut possim includere quod bene incoavi. Sci- 
atis quod sine Cerere et Bacone frigescit Apollo. Quare turn facite ut vobis mediantibus 
incoatum bene possim terminare. Vale." British Museum, Add. MS. 8167, f. 104 (col- 
lection dating from 1220 or soon after). 

3 " Linea mea vestimenta simul lectisternia, pro studii oportunitate a vobis mihi 
longe procurata, iam a vetustate temporis corosa tendunt annichilari, ' ' says a student at 
Vienna, and he asks for others, in order that " me honesto more cum ceteris bursalibus 
valeam conservare;" Munich Cod. Lat. 11799, f. 121 (fifteenth century). "Mutatoria ac 
pelles " is the demand in the formulary of Hugh of Bologna (Neues Archiv, XXII. 300), 
while in the poetical dictamina of Mathieu de Vendome (ed. Wattenbach, 624) the 
student begs : 

" Delegare mihi mantilia, lintea, bracas 

Accelera, matrem talia dona decent. ' ' 

The needs of a student at Paris are thus stated in a monastic letter-writer of the 
fourteenth century in the Bibliotheque de Troyes (MS. 1992, f. 67): " Parisiensis equi- 
dem scolaris non ad victum solum denariis indiget, sed ad multa, sicut libros emendos, 
ad exemplaria conducenda, ad pergamenum ceteraque necessaria que conveniunt ad no- 
tandum. ' ' 



Life of Medieval Students 2 1 1 

worth nothing. 1 A Vienna student who writes to his father N., 
citizen of Klosterneuburg, that he has spent his money for books 
and other things that pertain to learning, receives in reply " by this 
present messenger ten Rhenish gulden, seven ells of cloth for a 
cloak, and one pair of stockings." 2 

If the father was close-fisted, there were special reasons to be 
urged : the town was dear — as university towns always are ! — the 
price of living was exceptionally high owing to a hard winter,* a 
siege, 4 a failure of crops, 5 or an unusual number of scholars ; 6 the 
last messenger had been robbed T or had absconded with the money; 8 

1 Bibliothique de V E cole des Charles, 1855, 454-455- Cf. Clerval, Les £coles de 
Chartres au Moyen Age (Chartres, 1895), J 94> x 95> 216-218. The elder brother, Ar- 
naud, was dean of the chapter, and the younger, Jacques, was studying in the cathedral 
school. 

2 " Dem allerliebsten so ich in auf erden hab, dem N. purger zu Newburg 

Das gelt das ir mir geben habt, das hab ich nun vertzert und hab mir auch davon piicher 
gekaufft und auch ander ding das zu der lernung gehSrt . . . " 

" Meinem hertzen lieben Sun N., studenten zu Wien. . . . Darumb, lieber Sun, 
sende ich dir pei disem gegenwartige poten x gulden reinisch und vii ellen tuch zu einem 
mantl und j parhosen." Munich Cod. Lat. H799> ff- 4 _ 5 ( a brief collection of German 
dictamina, ca. 1447). 

3 " Pro yemali frigore magis expendidi." British Museum, Harl. MS. 4993, f. 19 (a 
brief treatise, with examples, by an Oxford scholar, Thomas Sampson, dating in its pres- 
ent form from 1420 or thereabouts) . 

* " Cum propter imperatoris adventum, quem Bononienses trepidanter exspectant, 
Bononia facta sit cara in victualibus ultra modum." Guido Faba, Epist. 6. Cf. Thymon 
of Erfurt in British Museum, Arundel MS. 240, f. 123. So a foreign student in France 
asks for money at once because none can reach him after Easter, when war with England 
is to begin. Munich Cod. Lat. 96, f. 38V. 

5 ' ' Per grandinem et per alias tempestates importunas annone per totam Thuringiam 
(MS. Thuringia) perierunt, ex quo caristia invaluit satis magna." Munich Cod. Lat. 
1466, f. 71V. (Letter from Erfurt in a Silesian formulary of the fourteenth century. Cf. 
UnterlaufTin Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Alterthum Schlesiens, XXVII. 310 ff. ) 

6 So at Laon early in the twelfth century, according to the letter of an Italian student, 
" multis clericis Laudunum adventantibus, vix inveniri valde carapoterant." Bibliotheque 
de r Ecole des Charles, 1855, 466. A similar statement regarding Paris toward the close of 
the twelfth century is in Pez, Thesaurus Anecdotorum, VI. I. 427. In the Dictamina 
Rhetorica of Guido Faba, 38, the citizens of Bologna are accused of concealing the abun- 
dance which God has given them and thus creating an artificial scarcity. 

Uncommon dearness is a frequent excuse and comes from every quarter. Thus, be- 
sides the passages just cited, we find for Bologna Guido Faba, Did. Rhet., I ; for Paris 
Laurentius of Aquileia in MS. Lat. 16523, f. 16, and Rockinger, Briefsteller und Formel- 
biicher, 961 ; for Toulouse, Laurentius in MS. Lat. 1 1384, f. 44, and MS. Lat. 14174, f. 
26v.; for Vienna, Munich Cod. Lat. 5667, f. 188 (MS. of the year 14Q4); for Faenza, an 
extract in Builettino deW Istituto Storico Italiano, XIV. 173 ; for Arbois in Franche. 
ComtS, MS. Lat. 8653 A, f. iv.; for Oxford, British Museum, Harleian MS. 670, f. 26, 
(fifteenth century); etc. In how many cases a real scarcity existed it would be impossi- 
ble to say ; Gaudenzi, Builettino deW Istituto Storico Italiano, XIV. 131, thinks the 
model of Guido Faba {Did. Rhet. 1) refers to the severe famine of 1226-1227. 

'Munich Cod. Lat. 22373, *• 2 °7 (collection of the fifteenth century relating to 
Prague). 

8 " Reverendo patri suo ac per omnia merito diligendo A. suus Alius studens Paris- 
ius, filialis dilectionis constanciam et utriusque vite salutem. Paternitati vestre reverende 



212 C. H. Haskins 

the son could borrow no more of his fellows or of the Jews ; and so 
on. The student's woes are depicted in moving language, with 
many appeals to paternal vanity and affection. At Bologna we 
hear of the terrible mud through which the youth must beg his way 
from door to door, crying, " O good masters," and bringing home 
nothing unless the Lord go with him. 1 In an Austrian formulary 
a scholar writes from the lowest depths of prison, where the bread 
is hard and moldy, the drink water mixed with tears, the darkness 
so dense that it can actually be felt. 2 Another lies on straw with no 
covering, goes without shoes or shirt, and eats he will not say what 
— a tale designed to be addressed to a sister and to bring in re- 
sponse a hundred sous tournois, two pairs of sheets, and ten ells of 
fine cloth, all sent without her husband's knowledge. 3 In another 

notum esse cupio quod cum nuncios Parisius mihi destinaveritis cum equis et aliquanta 
pecunia (MS. aliquantam pecuniam), ex inoptato eventu rerum se subtraxit unus nunci- 
orum cum . x. maricis et cum equo qui fuit ad valorem estimatus . c. maricarum, qui, ut 
dicitur, postmodum interfectus fuit. Unde sicut multis positus anxietatibus, cum non 
possim habere Parisius credenciam aliquam, supplico benignitati vestre quatinus alium 
equum et pecuniam mihi sine obstaculo dilacionis aliquam mihi transmittatis, ne tanquam 
feminam oporteat effugere et tanquam scirram vagari me contingat aliqua dierum ad con- 
fusionem meam et vestrum opprobium in vestra facie comparere." MS. Lat. 14069, f. 
1 94V. 

1 " Cogit me anxietas eximie paupertatis et abhominabilis inopia me compellit exor- 
dium promere lacrimosum et narrationum seriem pudorosam. Nam cum deberem lecti- 
oni vacare et studiosius insistere scholasticis disciplinis, per hostia scolarium clamito 
mendicando. Insisto quippe reiterans aliquando vigesies, O boni domini, vel huius- 
modi, et non reporto nisi vado cum Deo. Festino postmodum ad hostia laicorum, a 
quibus frequentius repellor cum clamoribus et garitu, et si quando dicitur, Expecta, ex- 
hibetur mihi panis de triplici mixtura quern canes comedere perorrescunt propter aristas 
spelte ibidem insertas. Olera quidem repudiata, cuticule, nervi qui commasticari non 
possunt, mucilagines carnium, abiectilia intestina, mice spinose, rapa, legumina, con- 
temptibilia cibaria, et vina dampnata sepius mendicantibus exibentur. Discurro de 
nocte per civitatem, in manu dextra baculum et in sinistra parasidem [other MSS.: pisci- 
dem, pixidem), peram iuxta cingulum et cucurbitam ad modum scarsellule deferendo, 
bacculo canibus resistendo, sed piscis oleribus, pera panibus, et cucurbita potibus deputa- 
tur. Cado frequenter in lutum Bononiense, cuius fetor est odori sepulcrorum similis, et 
ita fedatus ad hospitium reverter satisfaciens latranti stomacho de perceptis." 
Buoncompagno, Antiqua Rhetorica, in Munich Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 9V. Also in MS. 
Lat. 8654, f. 16; MS. Lat. 7732, f. iov. ; British Museum, Cotton MS. Vitellius C. 
VIII. , f. 96V. Letters on the same folii of these MSS. describe the misfortunes of 
another begging student and of one who is lying in the hospital. The example cited is 
a good specimen of Buoncompagno' s style ; manifestly his descriptions are not to be 
taken as entirely typical. The mud of Bologna is also referred to by Mathieu de Ven- 
d&me, ed. Wattenbach, 627. 

2 Summa of Petrus de Hallis, ca. 1337, in Routes Rerum Austriacarum, second 
series, VI. 117. 

3 " Soror discrepta (i. e. discreta) et callida suum debet maritum et parentes etiam 
ad amorem sui fratris indigentis et subsidium inflammare. Soror dulcis, tua noscat dilec- 
tio quod ego sum in tali studio sanus et lectus (i. e. laetus) per Dei gratiam et bene ad- 
disco et facio factum meum. Multas enim paupertates substineo : iaceo quidem in paleis 
sine linteaminibus et incedo discalciatus et male vestitus sine camisia, et solum de pane non 
loquor, de quo edigeo non possum reficere ventrem meum {the Arsenal MS. has : de quo- 



Life of Medieval Students 2 1 3 

form of appeal to the sister's mercy the student asks for the loan of 
twenty sous from her, since he has been so short a time at school 
that he dares not make the demand of his parents, " lest perchance 
the amount of his expenses displease them." 1 

To such requests the proper answer was, of course, an affection- 
ate letter, commending the young man's industry and studious 
habits and remitting the desired amount. 2 Sometimes the student 
is cautioned to moderate his expenses — he might have got on longer 
with what he had, 3 he should remember the needs of his sisters,* he 
ought to be supporting his parents instead of trying to extort money 
from them, 5 etc. One father — who quotes Horace ! — excuses him- 
self because of the failure of his vineyards. 6 It often happened, too, 

non audeo ventrem meum satiare). Precor igitur, soror dulcissima, ut diligenter et sub- 
tiliter tuum ducas maritum in quantum poteris ut iuvamen aliquod mihi mittat. ' ' The 
sister cannot express her distress over his poverty ; she has done what she could and got 
together " .c. solidos Turonensium et duo paria linteaminum et . x. ulnas de subtili tela, 
que omnia tibi dirigo per talem hominem presencium portatorem. Cave tamen cum sum- 
ma diligentia ne hoc possit ad mei mariti noticiam pervenire, nam si hoc sciret mortua 
essem penitus et destructa. Ipse enim, prout credo firmissime, ad instanciam mei tuam 
in brevi tibi peccuniam destinabit." Ponce de Provence in British Museum, Arun- 
del MS. 514, f. 76V. Also in MS. Lat. 18595, f- 22v -; MS. Lat. 8653, f. 13; MS. 
Lat. 1 1385, f. 73V. ; Bibliotheque de 1' Arsenal, MS. 3807, f. 6lv.; Bibliotheque de 
Troyes, MS. 1556, f. 20. 

'"Ne mearum expensarum quantitas eos forte tedio afficiat." Munich Cod. Lat. 
6911, f. 5 4 v. 

2 Examples in Rockinger, Ueber Briefsteller, 41 ; Guido Faba, Diet. Rhet., 2; De- 
lisle, Formulaire de Treguier, Nos. 2, 5, 14, 17. 

3 " Debuisses quidem per biennium primo fecisse moram in scholis antequam tam 
importune subsidia postulares." To which the student replies : " Qui remorantur domi 
iudicant de absentibus prout volunt, et dum sedent super ollas carnium in saturitate panem 
edentes illorum nullatenus recordantur qui fame, siti, frigore, ac nuditate opprimuntur 
in scholasticis disciplinis. " Buoncompagno in MS. Lat. 8654, f. 14V.; MS. Lat. 7732, 
f. 9v.; Munich Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 8v. 

4 Mathieu de Vendome, ed. Wattenbach, 622. 

5 " Verecundari debet adultus et discretus filius cum a patre suo pauperrimo credit et 
nititur pecuniam extorquere, cui deberet potius in necessariis providere. " Munich Cod. 
Lat. 22293, f- 28ov. Cf. alsof. 281. 

6 " P. civis Bisuntinus suo precordiali filio G. in Montepessulano studenti, salutem 
et cure paternalis affectum. 

Insani sapiens nomen fert, equus iniqui, 
Ultraquam satis virtutem si petat ipsam, 
sicut Horatius asseverat {Epistles, I. 6, 15). Ut attumavi satis esse tibi sumptus hucus- 
que, suspedicavi pectore letabundo, sed hoc anno ymbres et uredo primitus, demum im- 
portune ulucres (i. e., volucres) vignearum fructibus partibus istis adeo deterserunt quod 
in tribus vigneis sportas duntaxat dovam in qualibet sigillatim collegi. Meos autem con- 
vicaneos par sterilitas reddidit consternates. Hac ratione non est michi suppetens qua 
te valeam relevare, nisi ultra quam satis immergar usurarum voragine, quo facto videar 
insanire. Igitur faciens de necessitate virtutem sustineas quousque nobis pinguiorem 
Omnipotens largiatur fortunam." MS. Lat. 8653A, f. 9V. In a formulary from 
Toulouse, on the other hand, the parents cannot send money because of the low prices of 
produce : " Cum de blado et vino nostro propter multitudinem que nunc est nullam po- 
terimus pecuniam extorquere. " Arsenal, MS. 854, f. 232. 

VOL. III. — 15 



214 C- H. Haskins 

that the father or uncle has heard bad reports of the student, who 
must then be prepared to deny indignantly all such aspersions as 
the unfounded fabrications of his enemies. 1 Here is an example 
of paternal reproof taken from an interesting collection relating to 
Franche-Comte : 

" To his son G. residing at Orleans P. of Besancon sends 
greeting with paternal zeal. It is written, ' He also that is slothful 
in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.' I have recently 
discovered that you live dissolutely and slothfully, preferring license 
to restraint and play to work and strumming a guitar while the others 
are at their studies, whence it happens that you have read but one 
volume of law while your more industrious companions have read 
several. Wherefore I have decided to exhort you herewith to re- 
pent utterly of your dissolute and careless ways, that you may no 
longer be called a waster and your shame may be turned to good 
repute." 2 

In the models of Ponce de Provence we find a teacher writing to 
a student's father that while the young man is doing well in his 
studies, he is just a trifle wild and would be helped by judicious ad- 
monition. Naturally the master does not wish it known that the in- 
formation came through him, so the father writes his son : 

" I have learned — not from your master, although he ought not 
to hide such things from me, but from a certain trustworthy source 
— that you do not study in your room or act in the schools as a 
good student should, but play and wander about, disobedient to your 
master and indulging in sport and in certain other dishonorable 
practices which I do not now care to explain by letter." Then fol- 
low the usual exhortations to reform. 3 

1 " Mentiti sunt per medios dentes qui de me talia predicaverunt," says a student in 
the formulary of Ponce de Provence. British Museum, Arundel MS. 5'4> f- 75 i Munich 
Cod. Lat. 22293, f- 282V.; MS. Lat. 18595, f- 2I - Specimens of the conventional re- 
proof and denial may be seen in Guido Faba, Diet. Rhet. 3, 4; Epist. 8, 9. In Epist. 8, 
the father calls down on the son's head " the maledictions of the Old and New Testa- 
ments. ' ' 

2 "P. Bisuntinus G. filio suo Areliensis — vel Aurelianis — residenti, salutem cum zelo 
paternali. Scriptum est, ' Qui mollis est et dissolutus in opere suo frater est sua opera dis- 
sipantis' {Proverbs, xviii. 9). Te nuper intellexi [te] molliter et dissolute adeo vivere 
ut petulanciam plus celibatu diligas et ludicra seriis anteponas, nee non cum ceteri lucu- 
brationi vacant in cithara diceris concrepare ; unde contingit unum volumen legeris, 
quamquam tui choetanei plura condecentius legerint commentaria (MS. comitaria). 
Igitur te duxi presentibus exortandum quod (MS. qq) a tuis dissolutionibus insolenciis 
totaliter resipiscas, quod non dicaris bonorum dissipator sed in bonum nomen tua possit 
ignominia commutari." MS. Lat. 8653A, f . 9 ; a similar letter is on f. 13V. 

3 " Non per tuum magistrum, qui tamen non deberet mihi talia celare, sed per certam 
relacionem quorundam, didici quod tu non studes in camera tua nee in scolis sis ut bonus 
scolaris solet facere, sed extra vagabundus efBciaris atque lusor et tuo magistro non obedi- 
ens et rebellis, indulgens ludis et quibusdam aliis inhonestis que ad presens nolo per lit- 



Life of Medieval Students 2 1 5 

The arrival of students at school is frequently the occasion of 
letters to parents describing their new surroundings, as in the fol- 
lowing illustration, which comes from Moravia : 

" After my departure from your gracious presence the circum- 
stances of my journey continued to improve until by divine assist- 
ance I arrived safely in the city of Briinn, where I have had the 
good fortune to obtain lodgings with a certain citizen who has two 
boys in school and provides me with food and clothing in sufficient 
amount. I have also found here an upright and worthy master, of 
distinguished reputation and varied attainments, who imparts in- 
struction faithfully ; all my fellow pupils, too, are modest, courte- 
ous, and of good character, cherishing no hatred but giving mutual 
assistance in the acquirement of knowledge and in honor preferring 
one another." 1 

The following, from Orleans, is more fresh and original : 

"To their dear and respected parents M. Martre, knight, and M. 
his wife, M. and S. their sons send greeting and filial obedience. 
This is to inform you that, by divine mercy, we are living in good 
health in the city of Orleans and are devoting ourselves wholly to 
study, mindful of the words of Cato, ' To know anything is praise- 
worthy.' We occupy a good dwelling, next door but one to the 
schools and market-place, so that we can go to school every day 
without wetting our feet. We have also good companions in the 
house with us, well advanced in their studies and of excellent habits 
— an advantage which we well appreciate, for as the Psalmist says, 
'With an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright' " (Psalms, 
xviii. 25). Then follows the inevitable demand for money, this 
time for the purchase of a desk, ink, and parchment, and the letter 

teras explicare." Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f- 278V.; Cod. Lat. 16122, f. Ilv.; MS. Lat. 
r 8595> f- I0V - Cf. Buoncompagno in Munich Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 4V. 

1 " Postquam discessi a vestra facie graciosa, divino favente (MS. vavente) auxilio, 
meum iter [convertitur] de bono in melius se disposuit donee Brunnensis civitas incolo- 
mem me recepit. Ibidem apud quendam civem qui duos habet pueros scolas frequentantes 
sospes et cum gaudio sum Iocatus, qui sufficienter vestes et victualia aministrat ; ibidem 
etiam inveni magistrum probum et honestum, suos subditos fideliter informantem, hones- 
tatis titulo ac diversis facultatibus presignitum. Preterea socii qui se in suis scolis recipi- 
unt omnes sunt curiales, humiles, et honesti, inter quos nullum latet odium sed mutuo 
scientiis proficiunt et honoribus se exaltant." Munich Cod. Lat. 2649, f- 49 ! on f. 44 a 
student gives a similar account of his surroundings at Erfurt. The following, of much the 
same character, is from Buoncompagno : "A vobis licentia impetrata et recepto benedic- 
tionis vestre munere, cepi ad studium properare sicque cum successive fortune incremento 
intravi Bononiam, ubi a sociis et amicis fui cum ingenti alacritate receptus et ab eis mul- 
tipliciter honoratus. Postmodum vero conducxi hospitium, preelegi mihi magistrum et 
socios competentes, cum quibus lego et proficio iugiter in moribus et doctrina." Munich 
Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 5 : MS. Lat. 8654, f. 8. See also Guido Faba, Epist. 54 ; and 
Ponce de Provence in Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f - 2 79» and M S. 3807 of the Arsenal, 
f- 57v. 



2i 6 C. H. Haskins 

closes by saying that the bearer will take charge of the books and 
shoes their parents have to send and will also bring any message 
they may desire him to convey. * 

The student's journey and arrival were not always so prosper- 
ous, and the famous Bolognese dictator Buoncompagno devotes a 
chapter of his collection to the accidents that may befall one on the 
way to the university. 2 Attacks from robbers seem to have been 
the chief danger ; the scholar was hastening to Bologna, for the love 
of letters, but in crossing the Alps he was attacked by highwaymen, 
who took away his books, clothing and money, so that he has been 
obliged to remain in a neighboring monastery till help can reach 
him. 3 In other instances the robbery takes place in the forest of 
Bologna, 4 or in the highway near Aosta. 5 

Once safely arrived at a centre of learning, medieval students 
were slow to quit academic life. 6 Again and again they ask per- 

■MS. Lat. 1093, f. 82v., published by Delisle in the Annuaire- Bulletin de la So- 
ciete de P Histoire de France (1869), VII. 149, 141. There is a reprint in the Archivio 
delta Societa Romana di Storia Patria (1888), XI. 396. 

With these may be compared such descriptions of Paris as are given by a German 
student at the beginning of the twelfth century (Jaffe, Bibliotheca Rerum Germanicarum, 
V. 285) ; by Gui de Bazoches about fifty years later {Bulletin de la Societi de V Histoire 
de Paris et de V Isle de France, IV. 38 — cf. Neues Archiv, XVI. 72) ; and by John, 
later Archbishop of Prague, in 1375 or 1376 (Archiv fur osterreichische Geschichte, LV. 

385)- 

2 See the table of contents in Rockinger, Brief steller und Formelbiicher , 134. 

3 "Eram in procintu itineris et Bononiam properabam ob amorem studii litteralis, 
unde si essent in homine vie illius meum ducxissem propositum ad effectum ; sed comparuit 
evidens impedimentum quo cogor a proposito resilire. Sane cum essem in transitu Alpium 
occurerunt quidam ratopres (MS. Lat. latrones) qui peccuniam, libros, vestes, et equos 
mihi penitus abstulerunt, me nudum, verberatum, et vulneratum, lugubrem et abiectum in 
solitudinem dimittentes. Postmodum autem diverti ad quoddam monasterium, in quo 
tandiu proposui commorari donee quid mihi sit agendum vestris litteris intimetis." Buon- 
compagno in Munich Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 5 ; MS. Lat. 8654, f. 8 ; British Museum, Cot- 
ton MS. Vitellius, C. VIII., f. 93V. In Mathieu deVendome (ed. Wattenbach, 587) the 
same fate befalls a student of medicine on his way to Salerno. 

1 ' ' Mirifice divinitatis nutu Vercellensis ecclesie religioso antistiti B. humillimus 

clericus Cum enim nuper preter parentium velle philosofice discende lib- 

eralitatis gratia versus Bononiam iter incepissem et procuratorem habens itineris Bono- 
niensium silvam ingressus essem, supervenientes quidam milites de contiguis castrorum fini- 
bus ad depredandum, sicut revero venerant habiles, me cum prefato itineris tutore ceperunt 
et cuncta seriatim investigantes cetera violenter abstulerunt . xv. argenti marcas, pelles 

grisias exceptis subpellectilibus plurimis et diversis que scolares in 

terra extranea victuros portare cognoscitis. " Precepta Prosaici Dictaminis secundum 
Tullium, of the twelfth century, from northern Italy, in British Museum, Add. MS. 21173, 
f. 7lv. 

5 " Consultatione vestra Bononiam (MS. Bonaniam) profiscebar iuris scientiam 
adepturus, verum in strata publica (MS. plubica) vispiliones me spoliaverunt, libros et 
pecuniam cum vestibus absportantes, unde pauperculus regressus sum ad Augustam ubi 
cum robore miserabili mendicitate sustentor." MS. Lat. 8653A, f. 3V. 

6 Buoncompagno even tells of one who had spent twenty-eight years in study : 
" Ecce iam xxviii. annorum spacium est elapsum quod te dedicasti scholasticis dis- 



Life of Medieval Students 217 

mission to have their term of study extended ; war might break- 
out, 1 parents or brothers die, an inheritance have to be divided, 2 but 
the student pleads always for delay. He desires to "serve longer 
in the camp of Pallas ;" 3 in any event he cannot leave before Easter, 
as his masters have just begun important courses of lectures.'' A 
scholar is called home from Siena to marry a lady of many attrac- 
tions ; he answers that he deems it foolish to desert the cause of 
learning for the sake of a woman, " for one may always get a wife, 
but science once lost can never be recovered." 5 In a similar case 
another student holds out against the charms of a proposed wife, 
who, " though she is dark, is clever and of placid demeanor, good, 
wise and noble, and moreover has a considerable dower and belongs 
to an influential family." 6 Sometimes, however, the student is 
taken ill and writes for money and an easy-going horse to take him 
home, 7 while occasionally he discovers his inability to learn and 

ciplinis." Munich Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 13; MS. Lat. 8654, f. 2lv.; MS. Lat. 7732, f. 
14V. 

1 Guido Faba, Diet. Rhet. 53, Epist. 84. Cf. Petrus de Hallis in Pontes Rerum Aus- 
triacarum, second series, VI. 116; and Bullettino dell ' Istituto Storico Italiano, XIV. 
169. 

2 Munich Cod. Lat. 2649, f. 50; Cod. Lat. 96, f. 38; Cod. Lat. 14708, f. 58, 58V.; 
Zeitschrift filr die Geschichte des Oberrheins, new series, XI. 34; Guido Faba, Diet. 
Rhet. 15, 16. 

3 "In castris Paladis disposui longiori spatio militare." MS. Lat. 866l, f. 98V. 
So the nephews of Wolfgang of Altaich ask for more time (Berlin MS. Lat. oct. 136, f. 
Il2v.), and a beneficed student promises to return to his parish in the spring (Guido 
Faba, Diet. Rhet. 84, 85). 

4 " Ad presens te non possum presencionaliter consolari nee ante futurum Pascha 
tuam presenciam visitare, quia magistri quorum lectionibus me subiunxi quosdam libros 
mihi utiles legere inceperunt, quorum neglectio meo studio generaret irrecuperabile de- 
trimentum." Munich Cod. Lat. 2649, f. 50V. 

5 Guido Faba, Peirlamenti ed Peristole, 16—19. 

6 " G. , filiam Bernardi de Gualdo . . . que, quamquam bruna sit, abilis est et pla- 
cida in conspectu, morum elegantia decoratur, nitet sapientia, magnaque nobilitate clares- 
cit. Preterea nominata dotem exhibet grandi censu, caros habebit amicos plurimos et 
affines." MS. Lat. 8661, f. 98; on f. 96V., on the other hand, a student writes that his 
approaching marriage will prevent his return to school. 

The same MS., f. 99V., reproduces a form of Buoncompagno's written by a woman 
to her husband who has remained in the schools longer than he had promised ; she is sure 
he has been studying in some other Code, and proposes to read a little in the Digest on 
her own account ! This is published from an anonymous fragment at Rheims by Watten- 
bach in the Sitzungsbenehte of the Berlin Academy for 1892, 93 ; it will be found, fol- 
lowed by another of similar character, in the copies of the Antiqua Rhetorica in MS. Lat. 
8654, f. 22, and MS. Lat. 7732, f. 14. Cf. Guido Faba, Epist. 9, where a son assures 
his father that he has been studying in the Code of Justinian and no other. 

7 E. g , the letter of a French student at Bologna in the Formulary of Treguier ( MS. 
Lat. Nouv. Acq. 426, f. 17), cited by Delisle in the Histoire Litteraire, XXXI. 30. 
The following letter from Angers in the same collection (f. 3) is not mentioned by De- 
lisle : " Reverendo pre omnibus suo patri reverencia filiali tali patrifamilias titulis domini 
talis opidi decorato, talis suus filius Andegavis in studio moram trahens (MS. traans) sa- 
lutem corporis et anime, licet ipsa salute corporis iam privetur. Reverende pater, vobis 



2i8 C. H. Haskins 

asks to enter the army or some other more congenial occupa- 
tion. 1 

As is indicated by letters already cited, one of the first cares of 
a student was to provide himself with a suitable room. Various 
models show that it was usual to secure accommodations in advance 
through acquaintances, a necessary precaution when the number of 
new students was uncommonly great. 2 The scholar is going to 
Paris at the feast of St. Remy, 3 or he is a monk whose prior has 
just granted him a year's leave of absence, 4 and he .would like to 
live "away from the rush and noise of men," 5 in the same room 
with his friend, if possible, or at least in the same hospice." Fre- 

tenore presencium innotescat me gravi valetudine corporis iam detentum taliter quod ex- 
ercere studium nequeo, sed in lecto iacens egritudinis me rectis pedibus non valeo susten- 
tare. Quare paternitati vestre carisime suplico, care pater, visis presentibus unura de 
vestris clientibus cum equo suaviter ambulante et sufficienti pecunia ad expensas pro me 
mittere non tardetis, quo ducente vestram gratuitam presenciam ante quam moriar valeam 
visitare. Spero etenim firmiter quod mea infirmitas mutacione locorum valeat immutari, 
alias timeo et oresco ne ossa mea terra contegat aliena." In MS. Lat. 15131, f. I77v., a 
student at Orleans writes to the same effect. So in the British Museum, Cotton MS. Vi- 
tellius, C. VIII., f. 141, where the writer wishes "vehiculum et expensam." 

1 " Patri karissimo, etc. In labore scholastico sedi diucius ut mihi thesaurum scientie 
comparem, verum sed irritum laboravi et video quantum magis studeo tanto minus proficio 
nee ad memoriam possum reducere peraudita. Ad hoc ergo discretum habeat consilium 
vestra veneranda paternitas me ab officio clericali removendo et ad decus milicie, ad quod 
meus valde suspirat animus, transferendo ; aliquin regnum Francorum gressibus visitabo 
regi donee me faciat militem cum diligencia serviturus." The father tries to dissuade 
him, but adds that if in his simplicity he still insists on becoming a knight, he would bet- 
ter serve under his natural lord. Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f. 281. In other MSS. of 
Ponce de Provence (MS. Lat. 18595, f. 19V.; MS. Lat. 8653, f. iiv.; Arsenal MS. 3807, 
f. 59; British Museum, Arundel MS. 514, f. 73V.) the request is more general — " Alius 
patri quod non potest addiscere, et removeat eum ab officio clericali ad aliud aptum offi- 
cium transferendo," and in the reply the student, if he returns, is to go into businesslike 
his brothers — " negociando lucraberis, sicut faciunt fratres tui." So in the dictamina of 
Nicholas of Breslau (Codex Diplomaticus Silesiae, V. 318) a father promises the delights 
of manual labor to a son who complains that the Scriptures are too hard for him to under- 
stand and desires to do " some more useful work which leads to temporal gain." 

2 See the letter from Laon, written not long after 1 103, in the Bibliotheque de V Ecole 
des Chartes, 1855, 466. 

3 " Ad festum beati Remigii est mihi propositum ire Parisius et vobiscum in eodem 
hospicio commorari. Unde vestram benivolentiam commoneo ut tam mihi quam vobis de 
bono hospicio curetis providere, quod in illud nostri socii utrumque confiteant ad 
honorem." MS. Lat. 8653, f. 32V. 

4 " De priore meo et meis confratribus pro anno sequenti scolatizandi licenciam op- 
tinens. " Salutaciones secundum usum Oxcrnie, in the Bodleian, Auct. F. 3. 9, f. 423 
(fifteenth century). 

5 "Ab incursu hominum et strepitu separata." Delisle, Formulaire de Triguier, 
No. 15. " Longe a tumultu hominum sequestratus, " says another model in the same 
formulary (MS. Lat. Nouv. Acq. 426, f. 13). 

6 " Vobiscum in eodem hospicio et etiam in camera et propono et desidero, si vobis 
placuerit, commorari." Ponce de Provence, in British Museum, Arundel MS. 514, f. 
77V.; MS. Lat. 18595, f- 23V.; MS. Lat. 8653, f. 13; Arsenal MS. 3807, f. 62v.; 
Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f- 2 ^3- 



Life of Medieval Students 2ig 

quently the student's father places him under the care of a relative 
or friend, 1 or he may ask the master to take special charge of the 
young man and his spending-money. 2 That indefatigable rhetor. 
Ponce de Provence, has left us models of all necessary correspond- 
ence between father and teacher — how the son is sent and received, 
the reports of his conduct and the appropriate parental admonition, 
statements of his progress and of the completion of his studies, and 
finally the letter sending the master his pay with the father's 
thanks. 3 In an example written at Cambridge a master is asked to 
permit a student to visit his parents, 4 while in another letter of the 
same collection a young man announces that he will take his master 
home with him for two or three days at Christmas. 9 

"'Mittitur Alius ad amicum ut eum in pedagogio ponat. " Epistolares quedam 
formule . . . extracte ex maiorum titterarum collectorio scolaribus Lovanii in peda- 
gogio Lilii lectarum, of the end of the fifteenth century, in Munich Cod. Lat. 7082. f. 
20v. (there is another copy in the Library of the University of Cambridge, Gg. v. 37). 
Cf. Munich Cod. Lat. 96, f. 39V. ; Cod. Lat. 14708, f. 59V. ; Cod. Lat. 22294, f. 42V. 
In a formulary from Orleans composed about the year 1230 (see Langlois, Formulaires 
de Lettres, III. 14), and preserved in the Bibliotheque de Rouen, MS. 1468, f. 363V., 
we find : " Exoramus quatinus expensis tali filio nostro apud vos ad studium misso vo- 
bis placeat (MS. placat) providere et omnia bene computetis ; nam parati sumus ad man- 
datum vestrum persolvere quicquid iustum fuerit cum actione multimoda gratiarum." 
A Silesian student at Paris, near the middle of the fourteenth century, receives money 
weekly from the hospes with whom it is deposited (Jacobi, Codex Epistolaris Johannis 
Regis Bohemiae, Berlin, 1841, 58). See further Guido Faba, Diet. Rhet. 13, 14; Zeit- 
schrift des Vereins fiir Geschichte und Alterthum Schlesiens, XXVII. 354; Watten- 
bach, Iter Austriacum, 52 (formulary from Naples, ca. 1230). 

2 " Et pourceo que jeo pensa qil demoura illeosques entre cy et Pasche sanz venir al 
hostel, si ay envoie oue lui vint soldes queux devers voillez prendre de luy et les gardre 
devers vous tanque soient ouelement despenduz, qar si la summe demouroit en son burse 
desmeme y les degastreit meintenant en chose qeu amonterent rienz." British Museum, 
Harleian MS. 4971, f. 20v. (a rhetorical treatise in French, with models, belonging to 
the reign of Edward III. Cf. Ellis, Original Letters, third series, I. x., note). John, 
archbishop of Prague, who studied at Prague, Padua, Bologna, Montpellier, and Paris, 
in the latter part of the fourteenth century, says that in his student days the masters had 
charge of the scholars' money, so that they rarely had anything to spend and could 
never buy sweetmeats (Archiv fiir osterreichische Geschichte, LV. 327). 

"British Museum, Arundel MS. 514, f. 70; MS. Lat. 18595, f - IDV -: Ms - Lat - 86 53> 
f. 9; Arsenal MS. 3807, f. 56V. ; Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f- 2 7 8 - Letters of fathers send- 
ing their sons to school may also be found in Gaudenzi, / Suoni, 170 ; and in Haurean, 
Notices et Extraits de quelques Manuscrits Latins de la Bibliothique Nationale, IV. 271. 
In Munich Cod. Lat. 7082, f. 18, a master at Louvain returns a scholar " in artibus 
graduatus," but hopes he will continue his studies at Louvain or some other university. 

4 " Et, tres gentil sire, vous plaise entendre que nous en avons tres grant voulantee 
et regret pour parler avec notre chier filz, sil vous plaist. Car vrayement ja grant temps 
a que nous ne lui vismes mais. Si vous prions chierement, tres doulz et tres gentil sire, 
que vous lui vueillez donner licence pour venir a lostel de parler avec nous au plus tost 
que faire se pourra bonnement." British Museum, Harleian MS. 3988, f. 49 v. (forms 
of letters, in French, relating chiefly to affairs in the eastern counties in the reign of 
Richard II. Cf. Ellis, 1. c). 

6 " Mon tres doulz pere, sauve votre grace il nest pas vray ce que vous mavez certi- 
fiee par votre lettre, comme mon tres honeuree maistre vous dira plus plainement a Noel, 



2 20 C, H. Has kins 

The letters of students make frequent mention of their books and 
studies, but do not add much to our information on these subjects. 
Books were, of course, in steady demand, and furnished a convenient 
occasion for appeals to the parental purse, 1 although it might also 
happen that they would be left in a chest at home until sent for. 2 
Often the particular work wanted is ordered through some friend. 
Thus if the writer is studying grammar, he wants a Grecismus and a 
Doctrinale with the glosses copied in a large and accurate hand, 3 or 
more rarely a Priscian and Argentca Lingua? When well advanced 
in grammar, he may aspire to study law, 5 and thus become a " refuge 
to his friends and a source of terror and confusion to his enemies." 6 
Then, if a civilian, he will need "ten livres tournois for a certain book 
called Digestum Novum," 7 or forty livres parisis for the Code, Di- 
gest and Institutes, 8 while if he forsakes these "clamorous subter- 

quar il venra avecque moy pour sojourner et prendre desduit avec vous par deux jours ou 
trois, sil vous plaist." lb., f. 45V. 

1 Compare the warning to certain students in Pez, Thesaurus Anecdotorum, VI. 
2. 186. 

2 " Dilectioni tue notum esse desidero quod, cum me Parisius transtulerim ad hoc ut 
studiis vacem omni qua possum diligentia, libros quos in archa tua habes repositos habeo 
necessarios ad propositum studiorum," writes a student to his mother in Munich Cod. 
Lat. 6911, f. 53, and MS. Lat. 14069, f. 201. Cf. the request for " anomynale and 
a bok of sofystre of my brother Emundes" in the Paston Letters (ed. Gairdner), 
I. 82. 

3 Thus a student at Orleans sends to his friend " P. de tali loco," " Doctrinale cum 
magnis glosulis de litera veraci et legibili tarn in notaquam in textu." Arsenal MS. 854, 
f. 214V. In the Formulaire de Treguier, No. 10, a Doctrinale of this sort is sought 
by the schoolmaster of Prat. So in the same MS. of the Arsenal, f. 215, the student 

wants " Doctrinale et Grecismum et ceteros libros gramatice oportunos ;" and 

in Ponce de Provence the Grecismus and Doctrinale are desired British Museum, 

Arundel MS. 514, f. 72; MS. Lat. 18595, f. 18; MS. Lat. 8653, f. 11 ; Arsenal 
MS. 3807, f. 58. Cf. also Zeitschrijt fur die Geschichte des Oberrheins, new series, 
XL 34. 

On the Doctrinale of Alexandre de Villedieu and the Grecismus of Evrard de 
Bethune, the popular grammatical text-books of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, 
see Reichling, Das Doctrinale des Alexander de Villa Dei (Berlin, 1893), and Wrobel, 
Eberhardi Bethuniensis Grecismus (Breslau, 1887); and cf. Thurot in the Notices et 
Extraits des Manuscrits, XXII. 2, especially pp. 98-102. A fac-simile of a portion of 
a MS. of the Grecismus, showing the glosses, is given by Prou in his Manuel de Paleo- 
graphie, second edition, 124. 

4 Hugh of Bologna, in Neues Archiv, XXII. 300. 

5 Guido Faba, Diet. Rhet. 61. Ponce de Provence, in British Museum, Arundel 
MS. 514, f. 72V.; Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f- 28 ° > Troyes, MS. 1556, f. 16. 

6 ' ' Tuorum turris et refugium amicorum et inimicorum confusio atque terror. " Ponce 
de Provence, I.e. Cf. Codex Diplomaticus Silesiae, V. 318, and the letter from Orleans 
cited below. 

7 " Quatinus michi in .x. libris Turonensium pro quodam libro emendo qui Digestum 
Novum dicitur dignemini subvenire." Laurentius of Aquileia, in MS. Lat. 11384, f. 
36V.; also in MS. Lat. 16253, f- 12 > e x cept that here the text reads "libris Parisiensi- 
bus " (in full ) . 

6 " Patri ac domino metuendo B. civi Parisiensi, C. humilis eius natus scolaris (MS. 



Life of Medieval Students 221 

fuges "* for the canon law, he must have the Decretals at least 2 and 
perhaps the Simima of Gaufridus. 3 From Orleans a student writes 
that he has become famous in dialectic, and desires to study theology 
if only his father will send him enough money to buy a Bible. 4 The 
father praises his ambition but cannot afford the expense of a theo- 
logical course — let the son turn to some of the " lucrative " profes- 
sions. 5 There are, of course, numerous letters in praise of the ars 
dictaminis and its study, 6 and the "frivolous and empty quarrels" 
of the logicians are not forgotten. 7 

Usually the writers of these letters study their law at Orleans or 
Bologna, their medicine at Montpellier, and so on, but sometimes 
their statements add to our knowledge of the medieval curriculum 
and the branches that flourished at different institutions. Thus 
Thurot concludes from the models of Ponce de Provence that logic 
was not necessary for the study of law, but was demanded of stu- 
dents of medicine and was indispensable for theology, 8 and it is on 
such forms that Fitting bases his argument for the early pre-emi- 

scolari) Ariliensis salutem cum reverencia filial!. Cum scientiasit nobilis possessio, ilia 
est maxime appetenda que nobilissima reputatur. Hinc est quod in legum honorabili 
facultate propono ulterius desudare, quia sui possessores multum honoris consequuntur. 
Quare dominatione vestre suplicat devotio filialis quod (MS. qq) causa emendi Codicem 
et Digestum cum Institutionibus quadraginta libras Parisiensium michi mitere procuretis, 
scientes pro certo quod iste labor vobis et amicis nostris honorem et gloriam reportabit." 
Arsenal MS. 854, f. 214. 

1 " Clamosis tergiversationibus legistarum." Laurentius of Aquileia, MS. Lat. 
11384, f. 59V. 

2 " Decretales in textu et glosa sufficienter correctas ad usum meum pro competenti 
precio emere procuretis." Id., MS. Lat. 14174, f. 126; MS. Lat. 11384, f. 55 ; MS. 
Lat. 16253, f- 2 3- 

3 Starzer and Redlich, Eine Wiener Brief sammlung . . . des XIII. Jahrhun- 
derts (Vienna, 1894), 245. 

4 " Demonstratione presentis cedule noscat vestra paterna bonitas, pater karissime, 
quod ego sum Aurelianis sanitate corporea per Dei gratiam predictatus et in dyalectica 
taliter fundatus quod omnes scolares et etiam magistri dicunt me fore disputatorem optimum 
et sophistam, et multum desidero in sancta theologia de cetero prostudere. Michi mittat 
igitur, precor et moveo, paterna pietas unde possum Bibliam comparare et expensas habere, 
quamvis non plenarie, quoquo modo." Ponce de Provence, British Museum, Arundel 
MS. 514, f. 73 ; MS. Lat. 18595, f. 19V.; MS. Lat. 8653, f. Ilv.; Arsenal MS. 3807, f. 
59 ; Troyes, MS. 1556, f. 17- 1° Pez, Thesaurus Anecdotorum, VI. 2. 185, a student 
who has secured a benefice is required to learn the Psalter by heart. 

5 " Hoc requirit, sicut mihi dicitur, magnos sumptus. Audias ergo artes, fili karis- 
sime, vel actores vel phisicani vel aliquam scientiam lucrativam, quia non possem tibi 
magnam pecuniam ministrare." Ponce de Provence, Arundel MS. 514, f. 73v., and 
other MSS. as above. 

6 For examples see Valois, De Arte Scribendi Epistolas, 25-27 ; Pertz's Archiv, X. 
559. Cf. also a letter in the Arsenal (MS. 854, f. 233), where " scolaris studens Parisius 
significat socio studenti Tholose quod dictator optimus venit Parisius, et ibi ad studendum 
venire non postponat." 

7 Petrus de Hallis, in Fontes Rerum Austriacarum, second series, VI. 117. 

8 Notices et Extraits des Mannscrits, XXII. 2.93, note. 



222 C. H. Haskins 

nence of Pavia over Bologna as a centre of legal instruction. 1 Sim- 
ilar evidence has enabled Delisle to establish the existence of a 
flourishing school of rhetoric and literature at Orleans in the twelfth 
century, 2 while the later decline of the trivium there is seen in a letter 
of the early fourteenth century. 3 A careful study of the formularies 
would also show something as to the regions upon which the vari- 
ous universities drew most largely for students,' and might throw 
some light upon the matter of inter-university migration. 

Letters from all parts of Europe testify to the expense attendant 
upon securing a degree. Thus a student at Paris asks a friend to 
explain to his father, "since the simplicity of the lay mind does not 
understand such things," how at length after much study nothing 
but lack of money for the inception banquet stands in the way of 
his graduation. 5 From Orleans D. Boterel writes to his dear rela- 
tives at Tours that he is laboring over his last volume of law and 
on its completion will be able to pass to his licentiate provided they 
send him a hundred livres for the necessary expenses. ° A success- 

1 Die Anfeinge der Rcchtsschule zu Bologna (Leipzig, 1888), 80, 105. 

2 Les Ecoles d' Orleans an XII" el an XIII" Steele, in Annual re- Bulletin tie la So- 
eiete a" ' Histoire de France (1869), VII. 139-154. 

3 A certain P. of Salins (Jura) desires to give instruction in rhetoric and logic at 
Orleans, " ubi plures dicuntur trivialibus assidentes," but in response to his inquiries 
" G. Arelianis studens " writes: " Scicitatus sum quot et quanti forent Arelianis in 
trivialibus auditores, tandem pro facto compertum est hos scolares esse paucos et indigos 
nee non superficia rudimenta sectantes, quod eorum doctores intuiti ad reliquas convolant 
disciplinas. Igitur quamquam meus animus vestram gliscat presenciam, nullominus vobis 
instinctu consulo caritatis quod (MS. qq) Arelianis non curetis pro trivialibus edocendis 
venire, ubi non sunt plures qui subtiliter audirent sermonis vestri dogmata [venienda] 
veneranda." MS. Lat. 8653A, f. 16. 

1 Thus Delisle has pointed out on the basis of the Formulary of Treguier that the 
youth from that part of Brittany frequented Orleans rather than Paris. The collection 
from Arbois (MS. Lat. 8653A), to which reference has frequently been made, 
indicates that Orleans was also the favorite resort of scholars from Franche-Comte, 
although Paris, Montpellier, and Bologna are also mentioned in the letters. We 
find Paris occupying a prominent place in forms from the upper Rhine (Zeitschrift fiir die 
Geschichte des Oberrheins, new series, XL 34 ; Pertz's Archiv, XL 503), and from more 
remote parts of the Empire (Pez, Thesaurus Anecdotorum, VI. I. 427, 2. 14, 179 ff.; 
Jacobi, Codex Epistolaris Johannis Regis Bohemiae, 58 ; etc.), while German students 
are often represented as attending Bologna {Das Baumgdrtenberger Formelbueh, Vienna, 
1866, 317 ; Codex Diplomaticus Silesiae, V. 318; British Museum, Arundel MS. 240, ff. 
122-123). I" general evidence of this sort must be used with caution, as names of uni- 
versities might be retained from older models, or well-known stadia like Paris or Bologna 
might be inserted without their having any close connection with the region where the 
formulary took its present shape. 

5 Rockinger, Briefsteller und Formelbiicher, 487. On inception feasts at Oxford 
compare the Literae Cantuarienses (Rolls Series), I. 416 ; and the Fasten Letters 
III. 248. 

6 " Viris providis et discretis consanguineis peramatis A. et 15. et C. cognomine Ro- 



Life of Medieval Students 223 

ful inception at Bologna is thus described by Buoncompagno : 
" Sing unto the Lord a new song, praise him with stringed instru- 
ments and organs, rejoice upon the high sounding cymbals, for 
your son has held a glorious disputation, which was attended by a 
great number of teachers and scholars. He answered all questions 
without a mistake, . . and no one could prevail against his argu- 
ments. Moreover he celebrated a famous banquet, at which both 
rich and poor were honored as never before, and he has duly be- 
gun to give lectures which are already so popular that others' class- 
rooms are deserted and his own are filled." * Buoncompagno also 
tells of an unsuccessful candidate who could do nothing in the dis- 
putation but sat in his chair like a goat while the spectators in de- 
rision called him rabbi ; his guests had such eating that they had 
no will to drink, and he must needs hire students to attend his 
classes. 2 

If we were to judge them by their own accounts, medieval stu- 
dents were models of industry and diligence, hearing in some in- 



terellis, civibus Turonis, D. Boterel Aurelianis in ultimo legum volumine lectionibus 

elaborans, cum salute vite cursum prosperum et longevum Vestra noverit 

dilectio mihi cara quod infra mensem, favente Deo, finiem librum meum, quo finito li- 
centiam in legibus adipisci potero, qua obtempta conscribi desidero venerabili collegio 
professorum. Sane cum tunc oporteat me facere sumptus graves, vobis supplico quod 
(MS. qq) in . c. libris Parisiensium vos habeam provisores, taliter quod, meo principio 
subventione vestra laudabiliter celebrato, vestre dilectionis affectum recoligens per effectum 
vobis impensius magis tenear obligatus." Arsenal MS. 854, f. 215. Cf. the Italian mod- 
els published by Gaudenzi, I Suoni, 168, and the following from Montpellier : "Ven- 
erabili patri in Christo suo P. , civi Bisuntino, G. studens in Montepessulano 

Porro nostis quod dudum theoricis et practicis laborans (MS. laborant) ad elicona medi- 
cine provear, cuius messis est copiosa. Propinquat nunc tempus quo predicatus honore 
magistrali repatriare decrevi. Placeat igitur patemitati vestre mihi plussolito pecunia sub- 
venire." MS. Lat. 8653A, f. 9v. 

1 " Cantate Domino canticum novum, psallite in cordis et organo, cum cimbalis 
benesonantibus iubilate (Psalm cl. 4, 5)> quia filius vester venerabilissimum celebravit con- 
ventum, in quo fuit innumerosa magistrorum et scolarium multitudo. Ipse vero querenti- 
bus et questionibus absque defectu aliquo satisfecit, nullus ei concludere potuit obiciendo, 
sed ille universis obiciendo conclusit et nemo fuit qui suis potuerit argumentis instare. 
Preterea famosum convivium celebravit, in quo tam pauperes quam divites melius quam 
unquam auditum fuerit honorati fuerunt. Item cum sollempnitate scolas regere celebres 
iam incepit, vacuavit scolas multorum, et habet plurimos auditores." Munich Cod. Lat. 
23499, f. 6v.; MS. Lat. 8654, f. II ; British Museum, Cotton MS. Vitellius C. VIII., 
f. 94V. 

2 " Celebravit conventiculum, non conventum, in quo sedit tanquam hircus in cathedra 
et rabbi (MS. arabbi) fuit derisorie appellatus, quia non erat puer qui sibi de quolibet 
sophismate non concluderet manifeste et ipse in obiciendo procedere non sciebat. Invi- 
tati autem ad convivium taliter comederunt quod non habuerunt voluntatem bibendi. Item 
incepit regere cum quibusdam conductitiis et novitiis, quia nullum valet habere profectum 
nisi velit ilium pretio numerario comparare." Ibid. (Cf. the Novissima Rhetorica in 
Gaudenzi, Bibliotheca Juridica Medii Aevi, II. 273, 282). This is followed by an ac- 



224 C. H. Has kins 

stances at least three lectures a day and expecting soon to excel 
their professors as well as their fellows. ' The dictatorcs, how- 
ever, were well acquainted with other types of academic youth, who 
needed to be reminded that reward came, not from having been at 
Paris, but from profitable study there, 2 and many are the forms of 
warning or reproof that they have left us. Buoncompagno indeed 
has a rebuke for him who studies too much — who rises before the 
morning bell, is first to enter and last to leave the schools, spends 
the day in his room reading, ponders his lectures at meal-time, and 
even reviews and argues in his sleep — but he significantly adds that 
the same letter may be addressed in irony to one who studies too 
little. 3 

Letters to fellow-students occupy a considerable place in these 
collections, but they are confined for the most part to messages of 
condolence, introductions, requests for news, protestations of friend- 
ship, and similar commonplaces. 4 We also find students urging 
friends to join them at the university, 5 arranging to make the jour- 
count of a candidate who answered satisfactorily the question set him, but, to the 
amusement of the audience, proved unable to explain a proposition which he himself had 
propounded to others. 

1 " Scolas commaneo frequenter, omni die ad minus tres lectiones mihi utiles a mag- 
istro et sociis audiendo, et spero dum ad partes natales rediero quod tantum profecerim 
quod non solum meos coetaneos sed eciam quosdam meos magistros in facultate scholas- 
tica valeam superare." Munich Cod. Lat. 2649, f. 50. 

2 Philippe de Harvengt, in Chattularium Universitatis Parisiensis, I. 53 > Konrad 
von Mure, in Rockinger, Briefsteller und Formelbucher \ 440 ; Wolfgang of Altaich, in 
Fez, Thesaurus Anecdotorum, VI. 2. 185, and Berlin MS. Lat. oct. 136, f. 112. 

3 " Littere quibus notantur gravamina que possuntde nimietate studii provenire. . . . 
Dicitur autem quod ante pulsationem initialis tintinabuli surgis preter consuetudinem ad 
legendum, in ingressu scolarum es primus et ultimus in regressu ; postquam autem rever- 
teris ad hospitium diem totum continuas in lectionibus quas audisti ; immo, quod plus est, 
variis cogitationibus dum comedis anxiaris, et etiam in sompno, in quo animalium virtu- 
tum quies essedeberet, sub quadam imaginatione disputas et lectiones repetis dormiendo." 
Then, after describing the student's neglect of his personal appearance, he adds : " Nota 
quod premissa narratio destinari potest etiam illi qui hue et illuc vagatur et studere con- 
tempnit, et dicitur hoc species ironie in qua delinquens efneitur maiori pudore. " Munich 
Cod. Lat. 23499, f. 4; British Museum, Cotton MS. Vitellius C. VIII., f. 93. 

4 These are particularly common in the various redactions of Bernard de Meung. 
Thus: " Socius socio consolans eum de morte socii sui " (MS. Lat. 1093, f. 62) ; " Sco- 
laris sociis suis ut latores presentium secum in hospicium habeant" (British Museum, 
Add. MS. 8167, f. 179V. ) ; " Scolaris amico suo " for news (Munich Cod. Lat. 96, f. 
38) ; etc. 

5 I'once de Provence in MS. Lat. 18595, f. 24V. Bernard de Meung in MS. Lat. 
1093, f. 6iv. (also British Museum, Add. MS. 18382, f 94V.; Cotton MS. Vitellius C. 
VIII., f. 140) : " Tuam ergo commoneo caritatem ut, relicta soli natalis dulcedine, ma- 
ture te conferas ad urbem Parisius, ubi florent ambages artium et profunda scientia divine 
pagine cum decretis." An exhortation to come to Paris is also noted in Zeitschrift fur 
die Gescliichte des Oberrheins, new series, XL 34 ; and in MS. Lat. 14069, f. 185, we 
read : " Cum igitur circumstancias ville Parisiensis scire meoque rescripto super hiis cer- 



Life of Medieval Students 225 

ney together, 1 or inquiring concerning the advantages of another 
place of study. 2 Reference has already been made to the practice 
of securing rooms through friends already at school ; in case of the 
death or sudden departure of a student his effects were sent home 
by one of his fellows. 3 At Bologna, at least, it was customary for 
the companions of a departing student to accompany him on horse- 
back some miles on the way, and we even find outlines 4 of a 
proper speech of thanks to be made to these transcursibiles mnici 5 
when they turned back. Like his modern successor, the medieval 
student seems to have been an inveterate borrower. Sometimes it 
is a book for which he asks, more commonly a loan of money until 
a messenger arrives from home, and models are not lacking for de- 
manding back the money or the book. 6 We hear of a certain faith- 

tificari desideres, innotescat tue dilectioni quod status terre bonus est, vinum et annona 
pro modico precio sui plenam exibent ubertatem, magistrorum etiam copia tanta super 
quod scolarium indigentia supprimatur, et — quid plura referam ? — omnia se prospera so- 
ciis studere volentibus offerunt et iocunda." So from Leipzig in the fifteenth century 
"quidam scribit quodam socio hortando eum ut ocius beanorum spretis inepciis ad uni- 
versitatem quampiam sese recipere festinet" (Munich Cod. Lat. 14529, f. 357)- See 
also the Rethorica Poncii (no place, i486 ; Hain, No. 13255), ff. 18, 20, where a friend 
is exhorted to come to Basel. 

1 See for example the correspondence of two German students planning to study 
canon law at Bologna, in British Museum, Arundel MS. 240, f. 122. One writes : 
" Patefecit mihi quorundam relatio quod tue voluntatis in hoc stabiliatur propositum ut ad 
Bononiense proficiscatis studium postquam estivi fervoris virtus per successionem auc- 
tumpni fertilis fuerit mitigata." The other will be glad to have his company; "in 
crastino beati Michaelis proximo tuum adventum desiderabiliter prestolabor. " 

2 See the MS. just cited, f. 123, and particularly Guido Faba, Diet. Rhet. 38, 39, 
where a student at Bologna is compelled to leave because of the dearness of living and 
writes for information concerning conditions at Naples. Laurentius of Aquileia (MS. 
Lat. 14766, f. 119), represents a student at Naples making similar inquiries with re- 
spect to Bologna, while a Spanish redaction of Guido Faba (MS. Lat. 11386, f. 56) 
substitutes Salamanca for Bologna and Paris for Naples in the example cited from the 
Diet. Rhet. 

3 Delisle, Le Formulaire de Treguier, No. 18; cf. also No. II and an unpublished 
letter in the MS. (MS. Lat. Nouv. Acq. 426, f. 9). An analogous letter to a student at 
Oxford, ca. 1331, is printed in the Literae Cantuarienses (Rolls Series), I. 4I7> and in 
the same collection (III. 334) is a long and interesting letter of the reign of Henry VII., 
written in English and describing the property to be packed and the commissions to be 
performed for a former student. See also the Rethorica Poncii (i486), f. 20v. 

*" Arenga qua utitur de studio litterali revertens inter illos qui eum causa honoris 
per aliquot miliaria vel leucas associant in regressu. ' ' Arenge composite a magistro Retro 
de Z.oro, in the Liber Epistolaris of Richard of Bury, p. 25 of the copy in the Biblio- 
theque Nationale (MS. Lat. Nouv. Acq. 1266). Similarly the Arenge of Guido Faba, 
MS. Lat. 8652A, f. 30. 

5 The phrase is Buoncompagno's. Sutter, Aus Leben und Schriften des Magisters 
Buoncompagno ( Freiburg i. B., 1894), 75. 

6 Bernard de Meung, in MS. Lat. 8653, f. 32V.; MS. Lat. 1093, f. 6iv.; MS. Lat. 
14193, f. 27 ; Munich Cod. Lat. 96, f. 37. Ponce de Provence, in British Museum, 
Arundel MS. 514, f. 78 ; MS. Lat. 18595, f. 24; MS. Lat. 8653, f. 13V.; Arsenal MS, 



226 C. H. Haskins 

less Peter who borrowed ten livres tournois one first of January and 
soon afterward quitted Paris for Orleans, where the lender's friends 
are requested to hunt him out. 1 The regular means of collecting 
such a debt seems to have been through the bishop of the debtor's 
diocese ; 2 at Bologna, however, the matter was taken in hand by the 
municipal authorities, who threatened, unless the debt were promptly 
paid, to make it good from the property of such of the debtor's fel- 
low-townsmen as came within reach. 3 

For obvious reasons, the letters of medieval students do not have 
much to say of what Mr. Rashdall calls " the wilder side of uni- 
versity life." We find a Paris scholar complaining of the disorders 
of the schools and expressing fear of personal violence, 4 and a 
student at Toulouse writes that a certain P., against whom he had 
been warned before leaving his home in Narbonne, had taken for- 
cible possession of his room and so disturbed him in his work that 
he would like permission to go home at Easter. 5 At Orleans a 
young man pleads for help from his father because, having quar- 

3807, f. 63 ; Munich Cod. Lat. 22293, f- 2 %3 V - Didamen from Louvain in Munich Cod. 
Lat. 7082, f. Ilv. Dictamen " magistri Johannis " in MS. Lat. 16617, f. 224. Formu- 
lary from Toulouse, in Arsenal MS. 854, f. 223V. Stehle, Veber ein Hildesheimer 
Formelbuch (Strassburg dissertation, 1878), 9. Munich Cod. Lat. 6911, f. 53; MS. 
Lat. 14069, f. 201. 

1 " Petrus, meus socius infidelis, cui decern libras Turonensium liberaliter mutuavi 
prima die Januarii, nunc instantis furtive dimisso studio Parisiensi Aurelianum se transtu- 
lit ad studendum. Quamobrem sapientiam vestram, que, etc. {understand supplico), 
quatinus de predicto scolari cautius inquirentes, si eum poteritis invenire michi sine 
mora vestris litteris declaretis. Nam Parisius proficiscar vel certum nuntium destinabo 
recuperaturus pecuniam prelibatam vestro auxilio mediante." Laurentius of Aquileia, in 
MS. Lat. 11384; also with Toulouse in place of Paris and Paris in place of Orleans in 
MS. Lat. 14174, f. 26, and MS. Lat. 16253, f. 14V. In MS. Lat. 14766, f. Il8v., and 
in the British Museum, Harleian MS. 3593, f. 49, the student has left Paris for Bologna. 
See also Bullettino dell ' Istituto Storico Italiano, XIV. 167. 

2 " Clericus episcopo ut cogat clericum reddere sibi pecuniam quam ei concessit." 
Bernard de Meung, MS. Lat. 1093, f. 57V.; MS. Lat. 8653, f. 31; Munich Cod. Lat. 
96, f. 33V. Similarly Ponce de Provence, in British Museum, Arundel MS. 514, f. 83 ; 
ib., Add. MS. 8167, f. 172V.; MS. Lat. 8653, f. 15V.; MS. Lat. 18595, f. 28v. 

3 Guido Faba, Diet. Rhel. 97, 98, Epistole, 33. This is confirmed by the Statuta 
Populi Bononice, ed. Frati, II. 24, 29-32. On the collection of the debts of Bolognese 
students see also Giraldus Cambrensis, (Rolls Series), III. 289. 

* ' ' Cum ad presens intentus esse deberem studiis, urgencia me protrahunt negotia 
bellorum quorundam, scilicet scolarium nephanda atque maligna perversitas qui studia 
dissipant, et timor cottidianus ingenium meum distrahit, quem habere me cogit anxietas 
de insultacionibus malignorum." Munich Cod. Lat. 6911, f. 54. 

5 ' ' Venerabili et discrete viro domino P. , nobili burgensi Narbone, anchore spei sue, 
B. eius clericus, suus in omnibus. . . . Quando a vestra dominatione recessi, mihi dis- 
tricius precepistis ut P. societatem spernerem quantum possem ; sed tanquam indiscretus 
vestrum salubre consilium non perfeci. Iustum est ut de hoc sentiam aliquod contra 
velle : ipse nanque P. tam inique facere non expavit quod proprium cameram dimittere 
sum cohactus, et quosdam socios meos oportuit facere illud idem, ita quod nunc cum filio 



Life of Medieval Students 227 

relied with a certain youth, as the devil would have it, he struck 
him on the head with a stick, so that he is now in prison and must 
pay fifty livres for his release, while his enemy is healed of his 
wounds and goes free. 1 That the pranks of students were not 
always severely judged we may perhaps infer from the letter of a 
professor of law at Orleans to a father at BesaiKjon in which it is 
said that while no doubt the man's son G. was one of a crowd that 
had sung a ribald song on an organ, the matter was of no impor- 
tance, as the young man's general record was good and he was 
making excellent progress in law. 2 Naturally, too, the examples of 
parental reproof have something to say of the evils of the time, par- 
ticularly gambling and riotous living, 3 but in general the formularies 
reflect the more virtuous side of student life, and for a more ade- 

domini et cum quibusdam mercatoribus de comedere in eo est. Unde cum occasione soci- 
etatis predicti P. aliquantulum sum turbatus et quasi a studio deviatus, dominationi vestre 
supplico precibus subiectivis quatinus mihi dignetis declarare, si vobis placet, quod ad vos 
venire debeam in proximo festo Pasche. '"' Formulary from Toulouse, Arsenal MS. 854, 
f. 232. A student makes a similar complaint of having been driven from his room in 
Munich Cod. Lat. 691 1, f. 55, and MS. Lat. 14069, f. 181. 

1 " Cum essem nuper Aurelianis, pater karissime, rixatus fui cum quodam iuvene, 
sicut diabolus ministravit, et ipsum demum percussi cum baculo super caput, et propter 
vulnus sibi factum fui in Aureliani curia carceratus. Liberatus est quidem iuvenis et 
sanatus, et a me petunt pro expensis illius in banno curie libras Turonensium quinqua- 
ginta, nee antequam solute fuerint possum evadere carcerem supradictum. " Ponce de 
Provence, in British Museum, Arundel MS. 514, f. 74; MS. Lat. 18195, f. 20v.; MS. 
Lat. 11385, f. 70V.; MS. Lat. 8653, f. 12; Arsenal MS. 3807, f. 59V.; Troyes, MS. 
1556, f. 17V. Similarly Laurentius of Aquileia, MS. Lat. 16253, f- I 3- 

2 " Talis professor legum actu legens Aurelianis, laudabili viro P. civi Bisuntino sa- 
lutem cum dilectionis amplexu. Lingua tertia multos perdidit, ut scriptura perhibet 
sacrosancta {Ecclesiasticus, xxviii. 16). Proinde non debetis aurem inclinare credulam 
Unguis obloquencium qui fame filii vestri G. mendoso (MS. mendenso) satagunt dero- 
gare susurro. Constat enim non fuisse diem profestum sed aprime festivum quo idem G. 
nee non plurimi scolares [et] organis armonicis decantarunt de scorto. Prorsus nihil est, 
cum ipse commendatur super mentis et corporis celibatu. Non igitur a prefato manum 
vestram pro Unguis obtrectantium retrahatis, scientes quod in utroque iure proficit ele- 
ganter." MS. Las. 8653A, f. 10. What is meant by the contrast between " diem pro- 
festum " and " aprime festivum," I am unable to say. 

3 E. g.\ " Lupanar in scolis et ludum exerces alee, litteralis scientie profectum ab- 
hon.inans" — British Museum, Cotton MS. Vitellius C. VIII. , f. 141. "Nam omnino 
labore scolastico postrigato tempus tuum et alia que habes consumis, ut dicitur, pilas, 
Dianam, et meretricia frequentando " — letter to student at Orleans, MS. Lat. 15131, f. 
l8ov. Cf. also Guido Faba, Diet. Rhet. 3, and the Bohemian collections of the fourteenth 
century analyzed by Palacky in the Abhandhingen der koniglichen bohmischen Gesellschaft 
der Wissenschaften, fifth series, II. 259, and by Schlesinger in the Mittheilungen des 
Vereins filr die Geschichte der Deutselien in Bohmen, XXVII. 16. See also Mathieu de 
Vend6me, ed. Wattenbach, 620-621. 

The formularies have very little to say of the more innocent amusements of students. 
Examples of this sort are the refusal of a scholar's request for a dog, lest it furnish him 
occasion for waste of time {Liber Epistolaris of Richard of Bury, MS. Lat. Nouv. Acq. 
1266, p. 81 ; also in a Cistercian formulary, MS. Lat. 1 1384, f. 195), and the request 



228 C. H. Has kins 

quate portrayal of its vice and violence we must turn to the records 
of courts, the Goliardic literature, and the vigorous denunciations of 
contemporary preachers. 

It is evident from this brief examination of the letters of me- 
dieval students that their correspondence has to do chiefly with the 
commonplace and everyday aspects of life at the school and univer- 
sity, and that in substance, though not in form, much of it would be 
almost as representative of the Harvard or Yale of to-day as of me- 
dieval Orleans or Bologna. Lambskin cloaks and parchment, the 
glossed doctrinal and the inception banquet, belong plainly in the 
Middle Ages and nowhere else, but money and clothing, rooms, 
teachers and books have been subjects of interest at all times and in 
all places. This characteristic of the letters is in some respects dis- 
appointing — we might have known quite independently, it may be 
urged, that the medieval student wanted money and tried to extort 
it from his father, borrow it from his fellows, or beg it from others ; 
we might have known that they were robbed by highwaymen and 
rebuked by their parents. What a pity that out of such a mass of 
letters there are none that tell us in simple and unaffected detail how 
a young man studied and how he spent his day ! To all this the 
answer is that under the conditions then prevailing very few such 
letters could have been written, and, if written, there was no reason 
why a matter of such individual and temporary interest should be 
preserved. It was precisely because they were trite and banal, be- 
cause they voiced the needs of the great student body everywhere 
and always, that these letters and models were considered useful to 
others and hence were copied and kept. It is certainly worth some- 
thing to us to know what were the commonplaces of existence in 
the schools of the Middle Ages, and to realize more vividly those 
phases of student life which we might otherwise lose from view. 
One may, of course, easily be deceived by the modern atmosphere 
with which such letters, read without reference to other sources of 
information, surround the medieval student, and yet from one point 
of view their value lies just here. The contrasts between the Middle 
Ages and the nineteenth century are broad and striking, in univer- 

for the loan of a horse to ride on St. Nicholas' Day at Oxford : " Constanciam vestram 
quam diligo cordis et anime puritate deprecor incessanter quatinus equum vestrum in hon- 
ore sancti Nicholay equitandum dignetur vestra dilectio mihi accomodare, super quem 
honorifice valeam equitare." Bodleian, Auct. F. 3. 9, f. 427. (fifteenth century). On 
the feast of St. Nicholas — the patron saint of scholars- — as celebrated in the schools of 
St. Denis, see the forms printed by Haureau, Notices et Extraits de quelgues Manuscrits 
Latins, IV. 276. A letter entitled " Scolaris patri significans se eligendum episcopum 
puerorum" (Stehle, Ueber tin Hildesheimer Formelbuch, 9) seems to allude to the same oc- 
casion. 



Life of Medieval Students 229 

sities as well as in the world at large, and we need to be reminded 
again and again that the fundamental factors in man's development 
remain much the same from age to age and must so remain as long 
as human nature and physical environment continue what they have 
been. A just historical view requires accurate appreciation of both 
the constant and the varying elements in the history of civilization ; 
the present article may perhaps serve to illustrate something of their 
relative importance in the life of the medieval student. 

Charles H. Haskins. 

VOL. III. — 16